Quilting Retreat

We’ve arrived at Frank and Kathy’s place, where they live in the Gold Country, near Sutter’s Creek, the birthplace of the 1849 gold rush. They have a nice home, out in the country, on a wooded lot. They have two dogs, three cats and uncounted chickens. Frank took us to the Kennedy Mine, an old gold mine, once the deepest mine in the world. He is a docent there and can get us in to see it. Kathy wrote the grant that got the mine listed on the national register of historic places. More about it tomorrow. After the mine, we visited a rental cottage that Frank and Kathy own. Originally, it was the mine’s supervisor’s house. It backs onto Sutter’s Creek. Latter in the week we’ll all head up to Tahoe, where they have a lodge. Kathy earned her living in biotech, but her family made their living by selling dirt. Their Company, called Allen Valley Loam sells dirt to all of the major baseball teams in California, where it prized by groundskeepers for its excellent ballfield properties. Pictured is Kathy’s King Elliot Quilt, created by Kathy Allen, first published in her book, Modern Scot Quilts. We are sleeping beneath it while we are visiting them.

Cabin Quilt

Crafty Anne has been very busy, quilting. Now, she has also been doing a lot of knitting too, but this post is all about quilting, in particular her latest quilt. I’m calling it her cabin quilt, because she began making it while up at the cabin. Every summer, over many years, she would pull this project out of a box and work on it while staying at the cabin. At the end of the summer, she would put it back into the box and leave it at the cabin for next year. She didn’t have a sewing machine up there, so all of her work was done by hand. She only worked on the multi-colored blocks up at the cabin. Once when she had them laid out on the bed, her father Harry observed them and commented, “You don’t do subtle, do you?” But she had a plan and Harry could only see a small part of what it would become. Last summer, she brought the quilt back with her from the cabin and has been working on it here ever since.

This quilt incorporates two new techniques that she had to learn first. She has spent hours on YouTube U. Because this quilt is much bigger than her usual fare, she introduced the technique of block quilting or quilt as you go. I think that’s what it is called. Anyway, she first assembles the component blocks, quilts them and then stiches the blocks together. The other new technique that she is using for this project is the making of much more elaborate and fancy quilting patterns. Different blocks have different patterns. The photos show one of her favorite blocks that depicts the exterior of her cabin as seen from the parking lot. Most of the other blocks use more abstract quilting patterns.

Before she would use one of these new quilting patterns, she would first try it out on a practice block. I made the mistake of asking her what this practice block was called, because she has introduced a lot of new jargon to her craft with this project. First, she confirmed that it was just called a practice block, but then she said, “Some people call it Fred, but that’s its government name and it prefers to be called Lucrecia.” Serves me right for asking. It is still a work in progress, but she is almost done and hopes to complete it, before we leave for California. While in quarantine, I have been receiving regular updates on its progress. In a sense though this quilt is only a practice block for her next even bigger project. 

Dave and Maren—Engaged!

Dave and Maren—Engaged!

On Saturday, Dave and Maren Facetimed us, with their announcement that they are now officially engaged. Sunday, they arranged a Zoom meeting with us and Maren’s parents, Bruce and Kim. On the Zoom call, each set of parents recounted the events of their wedding day. Theirs like ours involved less than optimal weather conditions for the big day. Kim noted that we had both planned outdoor weddings. Moving on, our meeting turned to the discussion of Dave and Maren’s nuptials, which at this point are still TBD.

Our discussion touched upon a few wedding topics, like food (Dave), location like at a winery (probably around the Finger Lakes—that’s my guess.), length of the guest list and 2021. There is a lot yet to plan, but as Maren said on the call, “I like to plan these things.” If the last few months have taught us anything, plan for the unexpected, that way you won’t be so surprised when it happens.

Anne has been engaged in a quilting project since we began our Coronavirus quarantine. Originally, it was going to be a memory quilt for her mother, but with her passing, it morphed into a remembrance quilt. Since then this project has taken on a life of its own. One side of the quilt is a recreation of the family’s tartan and the other side is a collection of family photos. She has special fabric that can be printed on. For weeks now, she has been rooting through the many boxes of old family photos that we have accumulated over the years. I was reminded of this project with a recent New Yorker cartoon. In this cartoon the wife is kneeling in the middle of a pile of old photos. Her husband is standing nearby and in answer to what he must have said, she says, “You’re wrong, Ted, this is absolutely the right time to organize four decades of photos.”

As Anne organizes her four decades of photos, she likes to show me the really good ones. In these old photos, we see our former selves and many others, as they once were. Prominently featured throughout this portfolio are pictures of the boys. While we were so much younger then, our boys were even younger. It is hard to telescope these images of them, some of them in diapers, and think of once little Dave, who is now a man and not so little anymore. It is even harder to imagine that our baby is now ready to take a wife. The feelings that I have over this prospect, have become one of the unexpected benefits of growing old and I look forward to more surprises in the future. Congratulations, Maren and Dave!

Stutter Steps

Panic Attack, Sherri Grob, 2013

When in danger or in doubt,
Run in circles, scream and shout,
Panic, Panic!

I’ve posted this photo before, but I’m reposting it here because its graphics are reminiscent of the Coronavirus and what I am calling its antibodies. This image was taken from a quilt that was part of the 2013 Paducah quilt show, called Panic Attack, by the artist Sherri Grob. In light of the ongoing pandemic, Ms. Grob seems almost prescient with her artistry, if I do say so myself.

So, we’ve reached the end of month two of lockdown from this pandemic and many people are saying enough is enough. Or are they? That remains to be seen. Missouri, my state, is poised to lift many, but not all restrictions that have kept us sheltering in place. Some other states are doing this even more aggressively, while others are hanging back, watching and waiting.

Anne and I walked yesterday. It was cold, blustery and there was a wee bit of precipitation along the way. Not the warm eighty plus of the day before. We did our long neighborhood walk that took us through the De Mun neighborhood, where we had first lived, forty years ago. There is a small business district there that up until a couple of months ago was doing quite well. All of its store fronts are still occupied. When the lockdown was initiated some stores shutdown. Kaldi’s was one of these. Others plowed on. Apparently, laundromats are essential services. Most chose a middle road, by offering takeout, but as of yesterday, most of those places had also given up.

Next month the governor will relax statewide restrictions. Locally, Saint Louis city and county will maintain their closures, leaving the De Mun businesses still shuttered. Around 80% of all of Missouri’s COVID-19 cases have been in the Saint Louis metro area, with the county and the city being hit hardest. Metro East will still be closed under Illinois statewide ban, but the three Missouri counties that surround Saint Louis plan on relaxing their restrictions.

What will these relaxations really mean though? Pretend that the county had followed the governor’s lead and relaxed its restrictions, then those shops and restaurants could be open the next time we walked by them. The buildings that house these stores are all old, likely straddling the century mark. That means that my modern standards they are also quite small, with not a lot of room for social distancing. Seating patrons safely would severely limit the number of tables that could be run. Can a restaurant still make a go of it with only a fraction of their tables being usable? Most restaurants don’t have the margins to operate at these reduced capacities. It is cheaper for them to just shutdown. And what about their staff? Is it really worth the risk of working, for hourly wages? Then there is the liability issue. What if one of your employees gets sick? Reckless endangerment suits seem like a loss leader in this time of Corona.

Sure, some businesses will reopen. Their reopening will garner all kinds of press and be blown way out of proportion to their actual economic impact. Then a few weeks or months will pass and incidents of infection will rise again. Politicians are betting that they can manage this rise. These are the same politicians that have done such a great job so far at managing this crisis. (Testing anyone?) The problem is that what these politicians are betting are people’s lives. Is that a bet that you would be willing to take? I certainly would not. It is too soon.

Who Were Those Masked Riders

Bicycling Themed Face Masks

Smile! We are smiling. Can’t you tell? We can be seen sporting two of the 47 (or was it 51?) face masks that Anne has made over the past couple of weeks. These are our special bicycling themed masks. After taking this selfie, we launched to Forest Park, which is still open, but nothing in it is. Apparently, even the two golf courses are now closed. Previously, the mayor had banned the use of golf carts, which pretty much dried up most of the golfing business, but now the courses too are officially closed. With all of its attractions closed, the park was pretty empty, with plenty of room for social distancing.

We’ve walked almost every day and usually in Clayton. The sidewalks are wider there and so are the streets, plus it is a nicer neighborhood than ours. Getting there involves crossing Clayton Avenue. Normally, a very busy street, but not anymore. Routinely now, as soon as we press the walk button the lights change. It didn’t use to be like that. Today, we just rolled up over the pavement sensors and flipped the switch. There are perks in the new normal, if you notice them.

Next, we rolled down Wydown and into the park. The county has closed all of its parks and while the city might eventually do the same, so far it does not seem warranted. Besides closing Forest Park would be difficult to do. It has a lot of entrances and is surrounded by residential neighborhoods. All the neighbors need do is cross a street and they’re in the park. The only ones we saw in more than just family groups were the grounds crew people.

I do have one very minor complaint. They have closed a few of the major roads to cars, which I like, but the barriers that they have erected don’t have any slots to allow bikes through. We had to dismount and walk around them, all while trampling the grass. It was an inconvenience. Oh well, I’ll get over it. 😉

The park is beautiful now. Everything is in flower. The Redbud is mauve-lous and the Spring Beauties carpet the lawns. We tootled around the park for a while, before heading for home. We did speak with another cyclist, from a safe distance. He recognized Anne’s Michigan’s Lakeshore Tour jersey, which she was wearing in an aspirational fashion. He told us that he is signed up for this August’s tour, but none of us were sure whether that would happen or not. After talking with him, it sounded like he does many of the same organized rides that we have, Cycle Zydeco, Bike MS and the Michigan one.

It was getting warm, by the time we got home again. It may hit ninety today. I fired up the AC, just to test it. Even though it is warm, it is not very humid and still quite pleasant out. Besides, tomorrow night it is supposed to drop into the thirties. Crazy spring weather, AC on one day and then the heat the next.